Posted October 17, 2013
By PABLO CHACON-ALVAREZ
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — A small island getaway off the coast of Miami probably sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
There is a way for you to travel to the paradise destination that is Key Biscayne without your wallet taking such a big hit.
For the inexperienced traveler, a trip to Key Biscayne can be costly.
“Businesses on the island generally feel like they can charge more,” said Kern Pedersen, Key Biscayne resident. “You’ll see that everything from hotels to restaurants cost more than they would on the mainland.”
The average Key Biscayne visitors will find themselves paying anywhere from $299 to $399 for the most basic room at the Ritz-Carlton. A car rental will run them anywhere from $70 to $200 a day, and eating out at restaurant will be around $20 per entree. With all these expenses, a trip to the island may seem out of range for most people.
However, it is possible for budget travelers to visit Key Biscayne and avoid the majority of expenses that plague most tourists. While a vacation on an island will never be cheap, here is how to get the most bang for your buck when traveling to Key Biscayne.
If you’re trying to book a hotel online for your trip to Key Biscayne, chances are you’ll be directed to the Ritz-Carlton. In fact many people believe this to be the only hotel on the island.
The Silver Sands Beach Resort is a small, quaint secluded motel with a tropical island ambiance located right on the beach.
“I’ve lived in Key Biscayne my entire life and I’ve never heard of the Silver Sands,” said Justin Andrews, long time Key Biscayne resident. “I know we had the Sonesta for a while but, after it closed down, I thought the Ritz was the only hotel left.”
Booking a room at the Silver Sands can cost as little as $129 a night, which is considerably cheaper than the Ritz-Carlton. The most basic room at the Silver Sands comes available with two double beds or one king-size bed, ample rooms, and a kitchenette equipped with microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, eating counter and stools.
Guests at the Silver Sands have direct access to the Atlantic Ocean side beach, one of Key Biscayne’s most popular attractions. Beach access at the Silver Sands allows you to explore the shoreline, at the end of which is the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Visiting the beach otherwise would cost you anywhere from $5 to $10 a trip, including entrance fee and parking.
The Silver Sands also has a heated oceanfront swimming pool and a children’s playground where kids can enjoy themselves.
“My family and I always stay at the Silver Sands when we visit the Key,” said Juan Jose Varon, a tourist visiting the island from Bogota, Colombia. “It’s beautiful, private, and most importantly affordable.”
Key Biscayne is one of the few places in Miami where you don’t need a car. Depending on how big your party is, a car rental can be rather costly, but on the island you can get anywhere with just a bike.
“There’s no need for a car if you’re staying on the island,” said Bill Durham, owner of the Mangrove Cycles bike shop on Key Biscayne. “We’re located right in the heart of the island, near several exciting bike paths and we offer a large variety of bike rentals that enable you to tour Key Biscayne at your own pace.”
Bicycles can be rented for as little as two hours at a time or as long as one week. Bike rentals are a way to explore the island and city of Miami while enjoying the tropical environment and getting great exercise.
Key Biscayne is a beautiful location to tour on bike. There are several area attractions, such as the Cape Florida Lighthouse, that are easily accessible on a bike. The Miami Seaquarium on Virginia Key is another great place to visit that is only a short bike ride away.
There are also numerous nature trails and bike paths which can be enjoyed around the island. For those travelers who don’t mind a longer bike ride, Key Biscayne is less than 10 miles from Downtown Miami and only 14 miles from Miami Beach and South Beach.
Renting a bicycle costs $20 for two hours or $75 for an entire week. Along with your bike rental, Mangrove Cycles provides you with a complimentary bike lock, bike basket, and bike trail map. For travelers under the age of 16, a complimentary bike helmet is also provided.
“I never thought my family would have such a great time riding around on bikes, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip,” said Carolina Levie, a European tourist visiting the island. “We got to visit every inch of Key Biscayne and even made it out to South Beach! Bill was super helpful and his bike rentals are reasonably priced. I definitely recommend people who are visiting Key Biscayne to look into renting a bike.”
It’s important to remember that Key Biscayne is not a cheap place, but it can be an affordable vacation destination if it’s handled the right way. Everything from where you stay to how you get around can help you save you money which will ultimately make your trip more enjoyable.
The great thing about Key Biscayne is that there are so many things to do that don’t cost a penny. There’s no need to fall into tourist traps when there are countless free attractions just waiting to be visited.
If you’re staying at the Silver Sands, there is no need to pay to visit Cape Florida. If you’re up for a little walking all you need to do is make your way down the shoreline about three miles until you see the beautiful lighthouse off in the distance.
There is also no need to be spending money at fancy expensive restaurants. Instead try visiting the local Winn-Dixie and picking up picnic supplies that you can take with you to the beach or on a bike ride. This is not only cheaper, but it also gives you the flexibility to eat where you want whenever you want.
If you’re not scared of a little exercise, you can pretty much explore all the worthwhile places in Miami on a bike ride. Key Biscayne itself will take several days to cover thoroughly with all its nature trails and bike paths, but there are other options too such as Coconut Grove, Brickell, and Miami Beach.
The William Powell Bridge, Miami’s “mountain,” located right at the causeway entrance from the mainland, is another beautiful destination.
“Key Biscayne is the perfect place for an adventure,” said Sebastian Felder, a visitor from North Florida who frequents the island with his family. “There are just way too many things to do on the island, and it’s also so close to the mainland that you’ll never run out of fun activities. And the great part is that most of the fun is free.”
If You Go
The Silver Sands Beach Resort
Mini Suites (Standard) $129
Mini Suites (Courtyard) $149
Oceanfront Units $309
Cottages (totally private) $279
301 Ocean Dr., Key Biscayne, Fla. 33149
2 hour bike rental $20
1 day bike rental $25
3 day bike rental $50
1 week bike rental $75
260 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, Fla. 33149
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.
$8 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle
$4 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.
$2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of annual individual entrance pass.
1200 S. Crandon Boulevard Key Biscayne, Fla. 33149
604 Crandon Blvd #1, Key Biscayne, Fla. 33149